Combating Cool-Weather Pests

A chipmunk next to a brick wall and a grassy plant.

When the weather turns colder outside, rodents and other pests naturally look for warmer environments. If they get the chance, they'll find their way into your home and begin living there with you—whether you like it or not. Learn how to defeat those pesky animals by beating them at their own game, and making your home so unwelcoming to them that they'll have no choice but to leave you alone.

The Truth About Pests in Winter

Temperature harms pests much less than many people think. Pest populations in rodents and insects are not necessarily decreased by cold winter weather. In fact, as long as they can find a source of moisture they can survive even cold weather conditions—particularly if they can get into or around your home.

The National Pest Management Association's data shows that rodents find their way into 21 million homes every single year, and Americans spend $4 billion every year trying to get rid of them. There are lots of DIY ways, however, to provide pest control on your own and keep those creatures out.

DIY Pest Prevention

The best way to deal with rodents is to prevent them in the first place. Use DIY solutions to keep rodents out of your home, and make your living space much less attractive to them.

Get Rid of Cardboard Boxes

A close-up image of stacked cardboard boxes. Rodents easily chew through cardboard and find their way into boxes, turning them into their secret hiding places. Throw out all the cardboard, and store everything in metal or plastic containers instead.

Don't Tempt Them

A collection of pantry food items in plastic and glass conatiners. Make your home less attractive to mice, and fewer mice will be in your home. Store all your food in airtight containers and don't leave food sitting out. Take your garbage out regularly, and dispose of food waste as soon as possible.

Keep Them Out

Keep rodents out of your home by making it much harder for them to get inside in the first place. Put screens over your chimney vents and other openings to the outside. Look for cracks and gaps, and seal them up. Pay particular attention to vent openings and the area all around your windows.

Use Scent Deterrents

Peppermint leaves next to an oil bottle. Mice are naturally repelled by certain scents, just like human beings. Prevent the presence of mice by soaking cotton balls in peppermint oil. Place these cotton balls around likely entry points and rodent hiding holes around your house. Put them under the sink, in crawl spaces, in the attic, storage spaces, your shed—you get the idea.

DIY Pest Control

A mouse on a piece of wood.You may find that, despite all your efforts, you end up with a pest infestation in your home. If you see any signs of rodents in your home, act immediately. Rodents will chew wires and insulation, creating huge problems to your home's infrastructure. If you notice any gnawed wires or wood, or if you see mouse droppings, immediately take steps to get rid of those rodents.

Most pest control experts recommend trapping rodents rather than using poison to kill them. Poison will leave rodent bodies within the walls and other areas of your home, and this can lead to odor. Instead, try baiting your traps with peanut butter. Use non-lethal traps, and call city or county pest services in your area to ask them about proper removal of the rodents you capture.

Ultrasonic devices can also be used to chase rodents out of your home. They emit a sonic noise, but the unfortunate part is that you'll also hear the noise. It's a loud, shrill sound that will make you want to run for the hills, and that's exactly the point. It's effective and may be worth considering.

Cool-weather pests are seeking warmth and water, just like other creatures trying to survive the winter. Make your home harder for them to get into and much more un-likable with easy DIY solutions that will make them look for a more hospitable environment to inhabit.